Welcome to

Notes on
and Ideas

Published by Theodore Plantinga

Click here to read the current issue, which is dated November 2006.

Click here to consult a small index of TP writings on this website. Please note that this index does not cover the informal history of the reformational movement. There is a separate index for the files that comprise the reformational movement series. For an overview of the reformational movement series, please visit its table of contents page.

What does the name mean?

Birth Announcement!

Myodicy now has a sister (of sorts). She's called Frictophobia, and her birth has so drained their father's time and energy that Myodicy has been neglected to the point of being put on hold (also the Reformational History series). Frictophobia deals with issues in social philosophy and includes links to some pieces in Myodicy. It is also home to the new "Future of Marriage" series. As the advertisers say, if you like Myodicy, you'll probably like her sister as well. Click here to go to the Frictophobia home page.

Contents of previous issues
in reverse chronological order

June 2006 (Issue 26)

"The Reformational Movement: Technology and Verzuiling" (165k, file mdl)
Is the reformational movement losing its sense of itself as a separate stream because of the rise and use of new technologies? Or is verzuiling still alive and well?

"It Goes Without Saying: Reflections on Vanzelfsprekendheid." (28k, file mdm)
Can anything whatsoever be questioned? Or does a community have the right to place certain beliefs beyond the bounds of debate? What is the Dutch Reformed understanding of this issue?

"Runner's Introduction to Philosophy -- Third Installment" (34k, file mdn)
What did Evan Runner teach his students back in the 1960s? Read the third installment of Theodore Plantinga's notes on Runner's Introduction to Philosophy class.

January 2006 (Issue 25)

"The Reformational Movement: Church and Worship" (148k, file mdh)
The reformationals wanted to reform all areas of life. Did they also manage to reform the church?

"Existential Philosophy of History: The Case of Bill Clinton" (28k, file mdi)
Can existential emphases be combined with a deep commitment to historical awareness? Bill Clinton represents an interesting test case.

"Runner's Introduction to Philosophy -- Second Installment" (26k, file mdj)
What did Evan Runner teach his students back in the 1960s? Read the second installment of Theodore Plantinga's notes on Runner's Introduction to Philosophy class.

"When the Scriptures Fell Open" (13k, file mdk)
What was it like in the early days of the reformational movement, before the War and the deadly schism in the churches in the Netherlands? Cornelis Veenhof gives us some all-too-brief reminiscences.

September 2005 (Issue 24)

"The Reformational Movement: Does It Need a History?" (151k, file mdc)
Does the reformational movement (Runner, Dooyeweerd and the like) have an understanding of its own history that springs from a uniquely reformational understanding of history?

"The Right to Be Poor: Reflections on Mandatory Retirement." (34k, file mdd)
Is the planned abolition of mandatory retirement (in Ontario and other jurisdictions as well) to be applauded or deplored? Is it a way of telling seniors that they must sink or swim on their own?

"No More Zorro Outfit." (35k, file mde)
Are Christians -- even when gathered for worship on Sundays -- afraid to be different and unique?

"Runner's Introduction to Philosophy -- First Installment." (37k, file mdf)
Evan Runner never did write that introduction to philosophy book, but from some student notes we can gather what sorts of topics he would have discussed in it.

"Hellinga and Sikkema on Christian Higher Education." (25k, file mdg)
Can the creeds of the churches keep a Christian college from drifting off course? Two pastors addressed this question as they sought to help a Christian college get off the ground.

June 2005 (Issue 23)

"Trimming Our Sails with the Help of Philosophy." (21k, file mcx)
Does Christian theology and religious practice get bloated at times? Is it in need of downsizing?

"The Right to Annoy People: In Defense of Fundamentalism." (28k, file mcy)
Are religious zealots always and only to be feared and avoided?

"Moral Highlanders." (30k, file mcz)
Does the moral high road lead through fields of inactivity? Can we take credit for what we have not done?

"Just Give Them What They Want." (18k, file mda)
Strange proposals are made nowadays in the name of renewing Christian worship. Are we reduced to "marketing" Christianity?

"Recycling Our Sins." (21k, file mdb)
Many people are fuzzy about just what goes on in church. Could it be that we go to church to be recycled?

December 2004 (Issue 22)

"Unwilling Fools: Reflections on Charles Fiske" (40k, file mct)
Does a Christian witness in the social arena leave you looking like a fool? Charles Fiske thought so.

"Leading a Horse to the Voting Booth" (17k, file mcu)
Will the USA manage to plant democracy in Iraq? In some ways, Iraq may turn out to be like Quebec.

"Well Endowed" (24k, file mcv)
Have you ever envied university professors who hold endowed chairs? Perhaps you, too, can benefit from an endowment fund.

"Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" (19k, file mcw)
Can a political leader like President George W. Bush be both an overt Christian and a man of war?

June 2004 (Issue 21)

"Bureaucratized Knowledge: Reflections on Practical Epistemology" (46k, file mcp)
Have you picked up on the shift in practical epistemology away from evidence toward procedure?

"A Kingdom Without Borders?" (15k, file mcq)
Would an ideal world need borders? How about the kingdom of God -- does it have borders?

"Sticking Up for Sinners" (22k, file mcr)
Do sinners get a fair shake nowadays -- or do they deserve sterner reproof? Dan Savage leaps to their defense.

"Runner on the Groen Club" (42k, file mcs)
The Groen Club at Calvin College has no official history. What did Evan Runner, its sponsor, make of it?

December 2003 (Issue 20)

"A New Commandment: Emil Fackenheim and the Mystery of the Holocaust" (42k, file mcm)
The passing of the Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim is an occasion to review Jewish and Christian attitudes toward the mystery of the Holocaust.

"Feed Me Till I Want No More" (33k, file mcn)
The metaphors of hunger, nourishment and satisfaction that we use in our spiritual life often create confusion. Can we grow spiritually and fast at the same time?

"Mad Cow Nationalism" (17k, file mco)
The mad cow in our pasture is bad news for our wallets, but it may turn out to be good news in another respect.

September 2003 (Issue 19)

"Ken Wilber and the Quest for a Theory of Everything" (33k, file mck)
If there were a "theory of everything," what would it emphasize? Ken Wilber says he knows. The worldview discussion begun in the previous two issues in connection with David Naugle continues.

"Half-Hearted Thanksgiving" (29k, file mcl)
Do all Christians go through a conscious conversion process of which they retain a memory? And is a lukewarm Christian no Christian at all?

May 2003 (Issue 18)

"In Defense of the Concept of Worldview" (25k, file mcf)
David K. Naugle, whose book on the concept of worldview was criticized in the previous issue, responds.

"In the Beginning It Was Not So" (36k, file mcg)
What does the issue of church unity have in common with divorce and meat-eating as issues?

"You Never Can Tell" (21k, file mch)
How does old-fashioned philosophical skepticism undercut our effectiveness in providing for airline security?

"No Place for Grace? Some Thoughts on Academic Credits and Grades" (25k, file mci)
Does the Calvinistic understanding of grace undercut the concept of earned degrees and credits in Calvinistic colleges and universities?

"The Court of the Gentiles: A Place for Harvey Cox" (15k, file mcj)
Should believing Jews be welcomed in Christian circles without being pressured to convert? Harvey Cox thinks so.

December 2002 (Issue 17)

"H. Evan Runner: Man of Passion, Man of Conviction" (11k, file mcb)
H. Evan Runner, who taught philosophy at Calvin College for 30 years, died in 2002. His passion and conviction made him a unique teacher and a powerful influence in the world of Reformed higher education.

"Whatever Happened to the Groen Club?" (29k, file mcc)
Evan Runner's influence was magnified through a unique student club called the Groen Club, which played a lively role at Calvin College for many years and also had an impact on Redeemer University College.

"David Naugle and the Quest for a Theory of Everything" (101k, file mcd)
Many people in Christian colleges talk about Christianity as a "worldview," and now David Naugle of Dallas Baptist University has devoted a lengthy scholarly monograph to this concept. Myodicy comments and offers some criticism.

"This Means War! A Christian Philosophical Response to 9/11" (31k, file mce)
Responding to 9/11 involves reconsidering the distinction between police work and military responses to wrongdoing. Caleb Carr has made some interesting suggestions regarding terrorism and how we should respond to it.

September 2002 (Issue 16)

"Just Because" (20k, file mby)
Do you find yourself changing your stories as you retell them? Have you ever wondered why you do this? What is the difference between reasons and motives in personal narratives?

"Getting to Know You ..." (14k, file mbz)
The right to privacy sometimes clashes with our social needs. How can we get to know people in a world of secrets?

"Sacred Spaces" (15k, file mca)
A dispute over the use of space in a jail may serve to remind us of the importance of location when it comes to the worship of God.

December 2001 (Issue 15)

"Mary Elizabeth Plantinga" (9k, file mbw)
Mary, who was my wife for 33 years, died in October of 2001. Here's what I had to say about her at her memorial service.

"Making Room for Ahimsa" (12k, file mbx)
Practicing ahimsa is not like riding a bicycle: it's harder than it looks.

June 2001 (Issue 14)

"Will the Boys Become Men?" (10k, file mbt)
Can boyhood recover from the feminist makeover of our society? Christina Hoff Sommers dares to defend some unpopular ideas.

"Not Nobody: A Brand-Name Approach to Identity" (16k, file mbu)
It's no longer "You are what you eat" but "You are what you wear." Naomi Klein fills in the bigger picture.

"Giving God a Helping Hand -- and All the Glory Too" (34k, file mbv)
Sometimes we must look for the mysterious workings of God in the everyday deeds of men.

December 2000 (Issue 13)

"The Inscrutable God and His Detailed Law" (19k, file mbr)
There is a puzzle at the heart of much Jewish thinking: God is inscrutable, but his law is incredibly detailed. Should Christians agree with Jews on this score?

"Who Cares? Am I My Brother's Keeper?" (26k, file mbs)
Have we gone too far with "privatizing" and opting out when it comes to education? Is it time to open the door -- if only a crack -- and make some room for God in the public school?

June 2000 (Issue 12)

"Never Say No: Reinventing Life from a Wheelchair" (18k, file mbo)
John Hockenberry, a paraplegic, shares his battle to return to life after a crippling accident. Myodicy comments briefly.

"Why Dundas Matters" (16k, file mbp)
Have you heard of Dundas? It's about to disappear from the map. Will it be missed?

December 1999 (Issue 11)

"Difference, Modesty and Sexuality" (16k, file mbm)
A recent college graduate swims against the stream as she proposes a return to modesty in order to save real sexuality. Myodicy investigates.

"Just Say No: Reflections on a Referendum" (20k, file mbn)
The people need a greater voice in Quebec's future in relation to the rest of Canada. How can we give them such a voice?

August 1999 (Issue 10)

"New Age Thinking and Worldview Attribution" (14k, file mbi)
Have you ever been accused of having a worldview? Do the great philosophers have a worldview?

"Pluralism in Education and Health Care: Are There Limits to Open-Mindedness?" (27k, file mbj)
Do you favor competing alternatives in education? Also in health care? Are there basic similarities between these two fields?

"End-of-Term Report: Winter Term 1998-99" (4k, file mbk)
Keep up on events at Redeemer College.

December 1998 (Issue 9)

"Bless You: Reflections on Benevolence and Benedictions" (17k, file mbf)
When we wish people well or volunteer to pray for them, do we need knowledge of their circumstances? Or could we get by with "ignorant benevolence"?

"Redeemer's Charter Change: Why Did It Take So Long?" (18k, file mbg)
The Government of Ontario amended Redeemer College's charter this year. Many members of the college community had expected this change years before.

"End-of-Term Report: Fall Term 1998-99" (14k, file mbh)
Catch up on events at Redeemer College and read about the new technologies in everyday use in the classroom.

September 1998 (Issue 8)

"Assigning Blame in History: The Case of the Holocaust" (20k, file mbc)
Daniel Goldhagen has raised painful questions in Hitler's Willing Executioners. Must we forever blame "the Germans"? Who are "the Germans" anyway?

"What My Hands Have Done: Reflections on Agency" (16k, file mbd)
Does your mouth run ahead of your hand? Do you take credit for what others have sweated over? Perhaps you need not feel guilty.

"When the Robots Rule" (17k, file mbe)
Are you up on the strange predictions regarding a possible cyberfuture for our race? If the cyborgs invite us to join them, will you say yes?

April 1998 (Issue 7)

"Raw Facts and Wilted Knowledge: An Essay in Practical Epistemology" (35k, file may)
Nostalgia's not what it used to be. The same could be said of facts. Perhaps it's time to demote some of our facts.

"Hot-Button Ethics: Reflections on Harassment, Imposition and Autonomy" (24k, file maz)
Today people outdo one another in their outrage over sexual harassment. Is there still room to raise critical questions?

"He Who Has an Ear: Reflections on Lecturing to the Impaired" (22k, file mba)
Will the new presentation technologies change the way we teach?

"End-of-Term Report: Winter Term 1997-98" (14k, file mbb)
Catch up on events at Redeemer College.

December 1997 (Issue 6)

"The Truth About the Truth: Reflections on Denominational Exclusivism" (26k, file mau)
Are you afraid to assert that your church or your group "has the truth"? If so, you have plenty of company.

"Taking and Giving Credit" (16k, file mav)
Is your list of good deeds embarrassingly short? Try taking credit for the good deeds of others. Institutions do it.

"Affiliated Glory" (15k, file maw)
Studying in a small college is a bit like living in a small town. There are definite benefits, but also some drawbacks. Yet things can be done to minimize the disadvantages.

"End-of-Term Report: Fall Term 1997-98" (16k, file max)
This past term, discussion at Redeemer College was dominated by the question of computers and education. My end-of-term report devotes some attention to this discussion, and also to other matters.

September 1997 (Issue 5)

"Punishment as Public Spectacle" (17k, file mar)
Does punishment deter bad conduct? Would it help to make a spectacle of punishment? Or should all punishment be administered privately, away from public view?

"The Scoffer and the Believer: Toward a Christian Philosophy of Food Selection" (28k, file mas)
Did you try to change your diet but your doctor discouraged you? Take control of your nutritional destiny.

"Narrative Reticence: The Case of Henry Stob" (24k, file mat).
A philosopher struggles with the impulse toward modesty and reticence and produces a fine book of reminiscences.

June 1997 (Issue 4)

"Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" (10k, file mao)
Are you looking forward to being "dejobbed"? Futurists seem to like the idea, but the voters are against it.

"Marriage as an Honorific Estate" (28k, file map)
Are some people more married than others? Is marital status a matter of interpretation nowadays?

"Commemorating Schilder: Have We Learned Anything Yet?" (10k, file maq)
Lots of new stuff has come out about Schilder lately. Has it helped us overcome the great rift?

April 1997 (Issue 3)

"Virtual Christianity: Some Reflections on Being a Christian in Cyberspace," by David Van Minnen (17k, file mai)
Are you a cyberchristian? Would you like to become one? Or do you see some dangers here?

"Insurance Insurance: A Cartesian Dilemma" (11k, file maj)
Cartesian doubt extends its tentacles into many areas of our life -- even insurance. Are you covered?

"The Changing Sensorium: A Provisional Assessment" (26k, file mak)
Steven George Baarda, a Redeemer College graduate now engaged in further studies in preparation for the ministry of God's Word, responds to recent postings about Birkerts and Bly.

"Farewell to the Rickshaw: Reflections on Autonomy and Automobiles" (5k, file mal)
Time is running out for those who still haven't had a ride in a rickshaw. Should we regret its disappearance from the streets of distant cities?

"Anti-Americanism and Canadian Identity" (11k, file mam)
If you are a Canadian, perhaps you have been called "anti-American" on occasion. Is there anything to the charge? Can you truly love this country without denigrating our neighbors to the south?

"End-of-Term Report: Winter Term 1996-97" (10k, file man)
Another term is behind us. Friends of Redeemer College are invited to find out what happened at Redeemer.

December 1996 (Issue 2)

"All Men Are Brothers: A Chilling Prospect" (7k, file mae)
Robert Bly opened an interesting discussion in Iron John. Now there's a new installment.

"Please Contact Myself" (6k, file maf)
Do you need a tune-up when it comes to proper pronoun use? Does that tricky word "myself" derail you every now and then?

"Mission Accomplished? Some Dangers in Past-Participle Thinking" (9k, file mag)
A few years ago, John Bolt wrote about being both Christian and Reformed. Now there are churches which are both united and Reformed. What does "united" mean?

"End-of-Term Report: Fall Term 1996-97" (10k, file mah)
For friends and alumni of Redeemer College, an end-of-term report is offered in this issue. All the news that's fit to let out of the bag. No -- just kidding.

August 1996 (Issue 1)

"Birkerts and the Decline of Reading" (29k, maa)
A recent book warns that computers may be bad for our moral health. Myodicy responds.

"Subscribers Needed" (8k, file mab)
Married men are supposed to be promise-keepers. How about professors in Christian colleges? Or can we get by with a common-law professoriate?

"Jewish Law" (13k, file mac)
Some non-findings regarding contemporary Jewish thought.

"Whatever Happened to Samizdat?" (5k, file mad)
If you've never heard of Samizdat, don't bother reading this article.

Please regard the materials in Myodicy as copyrighted by me, except in the case of articles written by someone else. What is written in Myodicy should not be regarded as reflecting any official position or policy of Redeemer University College.